REDD-y... Set... Finance!

REDD-y… Set… Finance!

As international negotiations on REDD+ get underway this week at the UNFCCC’s 19th Conference of the Parties, it’s important to ask, what could COP-19 mean for the world’s forests and climate? What needs to come together over the next week or so in Warsaw to push REDD+ closer to becoming a reality? As the negative impacts of climate change become more and more palpable, REDD+ needs to take off and start its race against a warming world.

On Your Mark… Global Importance of REDD+

Greenhouse gas emissions from forests contribute ~17% of global anthropogenic emissions (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 2007). Because of this, forests must play a big role in efforts to address climate change.

REDD+ has enormous potential as a strategy to reduce emissions from the forest sector. “REDD” stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation,” and the “plus” expands beyond REDD to include the sustainable management of forests and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The development of a REDD+ mechanism under the UNFCCC is currently underway, but there are still crucial pieces of the puzzle that must come together in order for REDD+ to take off.

Get Set… Two Missing Pieces of REDD+

Since 2007 when the REDD+ negotiations began under the UNFCCC, there has been significant progress toward creating the necessary framework to implement REDD+. Most of the progress to date has been on defining the technical design elements of REDD+. Development of the financing mechanism for REDD+ has been slower.

These two pieces, technical elements and finance, are closely linked and both are necessary for REDD+ to be implemented on the ground. The Parties of the UNFCCC have decided that developing countries cannot receive finance for emission reductions from REDD+ activities without having five key technical elements in place. Until the design of these elements is complete, finance flows and the implementation of REDD+ will be held back. Additionally, developing countries need to know that there will be, in the near future, reliable sources of finance to support these countries’ investments in building up their national REDD+ programs. Delays in defining a clear financing mechanism will push back progress at the national level in getting a REDD+ structure in place and ready to go.

Go! Meaningful Steps Forward at COP-19

At COP-19, it’s essential that the Parties finalize the five main technical design elements of REDD+. To help visualize the current gaps in these design elements, I collaborated with the Union of Concerned Scientists and the World Wildlife Fund to jointly develop a series of “mind maps,” one for each of the key technical areas under REDD+.

REDD Design elements necessary to obtain and receive resultsbased finance(2)

(This is the central mind map, showing the five main design elements of REDD+.)

These maps highlight the issues that have yet to be resolved and that should be focused on at the COP. The Parties could realistically fill these gaps at COP-19 and, in doing so, help complete the picture of what the final phase of REDD+ will look like.

In Warsaw, the Parties also need to provide more clarity on REDD+ finance. In particular, they should focus on answering questions about what the financial mechanism will look like and what additional decisions may be needed to facilitate the access of developing countries to REDD+ finance.

If significant progress is made at COP-19 in defining the technical and finance pieces of the REDD+ puzzle, REDD+ will be well underway to becoming a reality. I’ll be reporting back after the negotiations with the news if REDD+ did, in fact, push off its starting blocks.